The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) aims to transform the way we produce and use energy in the EU with the goal of achieving EU leadership in the development of technological solutions capable of delivering 2020 and 2050 energy and climate targets.
Bioenergy is set to play a key role in ensuring the security and sustainability of the European energy system and achieving the ultimate goal of reducing Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels. The following is a chronological overview of some of the actions taken to promote bioenergy across the EU, in addition to a more general look at recent actions in support of the SET-Plan.
- The European Biomass Association (AEBIOM) is set up in 1990 to act as the common voice of the European bioenergy sector. Bringing together 30 national associations and around 70 companies from all over Europe, the aim of the association is to develop a market for sustainable bioenergy and ensure favourable business conditions for its members.
- The European Biomass Industry Association (EUBIA) is established in 1996 with the objective of supporting the European biomass industry, promoting the use of biomass as an energy source, developing innovative bioenergy concepts and fostering international co-operation within the bioenergy field.
- The European Commission issues a Communication in November 1997 on Energy for the Future: Renewable Sources of Energy – White Paper for a Community Strategy and Action Plan [COM/97/0599 final]. The action plan contains a list of priority measures, including new initiatives regarding bioenergy for transport, heat and electricity and, in particular, specific measures to increase the market share of biofuels, promote the use of biogas and develop markets for solid biomass.
- The European Commission issues a Directive in 2001 on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market [2001/77/EC]. This Directive concerns electricity produced from non-fossil, renewable energy sources including biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment gas and biogas.
- May 2003 saw the publication of Directive 2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transport. This Directive aims to promote the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels to replace diesel and petrol for transport purposes in each Member State, with a view to contributing to objectives such as meeting climate change commitments, environmentally friendly security of supply and promoting renewable energy sources.
- ERA-NET Bioenergy, a network of national government agencies and ministries responsible for coordinating and funding national research efforts into bioenergy, is set up in October 2004, with funding under the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and runs until the end of 2010. Eight countries decided to continue the network’s work on bioenergy research without EC funding from 2011.
- In early 2005, the European Commission sets up the Biofuels Research Advisory Council (BIOFRAC). The Council, which consists of a group of high-level experts representing different sectors of the biofuel chain, is charged with developing a vision for biofuels up to 2030 and beyond to increase biofuel deployment in the EU.
- In December 2005, the European Commission publishes its Biomass Action Plan [COM(2005) 628 final], which sets out a series of Community actions aimed in particular at increasing the demand for biomass, improving supply, overcoming technical barriers and developing research. This was followed in February, 2006 by An EU Strategy for Biofuels [COM(2006) 34 final], which examined the role that biofuels could play in helping Europe address its over-dependency on imported oil and gas.
- The European Biofuels Technology Platform is set up in 2006 following the dissolution of BIOFRAC, to bring together the knowledge and expertise of stakeholders from industry, biomass resources providers, research & technology development organisations and NGOs in a public-private partnership. The EBTP aims to contribute to the development of cost-competitive world-class biofuel value chains and to accelerate the sustainable deployment of biofuels in the European Union.
- In January, 2008 the EBTB publishes its Strategic Research Agenda & Strategy Deployment Document, which aims to highlight the research, development and demonstration (R&D&D) efforts required to achieve the vision for biofuels in Europe as set out in the Report of the Biofuels Research Advisory Council (BIOFRAC) ‘Biofuels in the European Union - A vision for 2030 and beyond’. The accompanying Strategy Deployment Document discusses the non-technical issues that should also be considered in developing the European biofuels market for road transport to its full potential.
- The European Energy Research Alliance Joint Programme on Bioenergy is launched at the end of 2010. The overall objective of this Joint Programme is to align pre-competitive research activities at EERA institutes to provide a technical-scientific basis to further develop the next generation biofuels and to explore the possibilities for joint technology development.
- Two EC Communications dealing with biofuels are issued in 2010: The Communication on voluntary schemes and default values in the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme [2010/C 160/01] and the Communication on the practical implementation of the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme and on counting rules for biofuels [2010/C/ 160/02] in an effort to facilitate a consistent implementation of the sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids across the EU.
- The European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative (EIBI) is officially launched in November 2010 to prioritise and facilitate 'first-of-a-kind' demonstration of innovative 'clean energy' technologies in Europe. The original EIBI Implementation Plan covers 2010-2012.
- The European Commission, Airbus and representatives from the aviation and biofuel industries launch the European Advanced Biofuels Flightpath in 2011. This action aims to achieve 2 million tons of sustainable biofuels used in the EU civil aviation sector by 2020. The actions covered by the Flightpath include facilitating the development of standards for drop-in biofuels and their certification for use in commercial aircraft.
- The European Commission adopted the strategy and action plan Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe in February 2012. The plan focusses on three key aspects: developing new technologies and processes for the bioeconomy; developing markets and competitiveness in bioeconomy sectors; and pushing policymakers and stakeholders to work more closely together.
- Following an FP7 call in July 2012, an ERA-NET Plus activity was launched entitled Bioenergy Sustaining the Future (BESTF). A first BESTF call is launched in January 2013. This activity aims to provide funding and support to collaborative bioenergy projects that demonstrate one or more innovative steps resulting in demonstration at a pre-commercial stage. A second BESTF2 call is launched in December 2013.
- In April 2014, the EC introduced new guidelines on state aid for renewable energy, including biofuels. These guidelines curtail state aid to food-based biofuels from 2014, but allow some limited operating support for food-based biofuels up to 2020. Support is allowed for ‘sustainable biofuels' (as defined by the Renewable Energy Directive, 2009/28, Article 17, Sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids), where supply or blending obligations are alone not deemed sufficient to facilitate market development.
- The fifth AEBIOM Bioenergy Conference is held in May 2014, co-organized by the European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), the European Pellet Council (EPC), the European Industrial Pellet Suppliers (EIPS) and the International Biomass Torrefaction Council (IBTC).
General SET-Plan news
- The development of the Integrated Roadmap has entered the final phase with the completion of the stakeholder consultation. The first consolidated draft of the stakeholders' inputs will be discussed at the next Steering Group meeting on June 26th.
- The inputs in the form of research and innovation action proposals address a set of energy system challenges, identified by the SET-Plan Steering Group, to meet the three overarching energy policy objectives: security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability. These are in line with the various scenarios for the evolution of the European energy system in the medium and long term as described in the EU Energy Roadmap 2050, and in national roadmaps.
- The Integrated Roadmap and the Action Plan are key actions of the European Commission’s Communication on Energy Technologies and Innovation COM(2013)253. Under the guidance of the SET-Plan Steering Group, over 150 stakeholders participate in the stakeholder consultation. JRC/SETIS is leading the drafting process for both documents.
- The Integrated Roadmap and the Action Plan will be the main focus of the 7th SET-Plan conference that will take place in Rome on 10-11 December 2014.The European Energy Research Alliance held its Annual Congress in Brussels on April 9, 2014. At the Congress, Dr Giovanni De Santi, Director of the Institute for Energy and Transport at the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission’s in-house science service, gave a presentation on the SET-Plan Integrated Roadmap – the State of Play and the Way Ahead.
- The Joint Research Centre published the Smart Grids Projects Outlook 2014. This publication is the update of a comprehensive inventory of smart grid and smart metering projects from the 28 European Union countries and beyond.
- The Joint Research Centre published its 2013 Technology Map of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan, providing up-to-date and impartial information about the current and anticipated future European energy technology portfolio.
- The European Commission adopted an EU Energy Security Strategy [COM(2014) 330 final] in May 2014. This strategy is based on an in-depth study of Member States' energy dependence and addresses medium and long-term security of supply challenges. It proposes actions in five key areas: increasing energy efficiency; increasing and diversifying energy production; completing the internal energy market; speaking with one voice in external energy policy; and strengthening emergency and solidarity mechanisms and protecting critical infrastructure.